Outgoing Naugatuck Police Officer Tom Conway grew up understanding the value of civic service. His father was a state representative in Waterbury for about 20 years.
So it was little surprise that Conway wanted to enter into a career where he, too, had an opportunity to help people. That career was law enforcement and it has come to and end after 26-and-a-half years in the Naugatuck Police Department.
Still, Conway, who has coached softball and other youth sports in Thomaston for several years, plans to continue to work in an area where he can make a difference. That opportunity will come at Newtown High School, where he will combine his desire to help children with his passion for keeping people safe as a school resource officer.
Conway, 50, who is known in the community and at Waterbury court for his jovial, upbeat attitude, retired Thursday in Naugatuck and hasn’t wasted any time transitioning into a new career: he started at Newtown High School on Monday.
"I’ve loved my time in Naugatuck. The people have been very good to me and it was a great job,” he said. “But it’s time for me to move on, and I feel that with my coaching and my years as a police officer, this is a really exciting opportunity for me.”
Conway, a married father of three daughters, retires as the evidence supervisor and Waterbury Superior Court liaison. In his job, he was responsible for handling arrest warrant affidavits and police reports that go to and from the court. He was also in charge of documenting and handling evidence. That role will now be filled by veteran Officer Rob O’Donnell.
On Tuesday night, the Board of Mayor and Burgesses accepted Conway's retirement and set his pension at $77,724 a year.
At various points in his career, Conway was a patrolman, a detective, a youth division officer, a community policing bicycle officer and the evidence supervisor/court liaison, a non-uniformed position.
“There have been some tough times, some crying times,” he said. “but overall, it’s been wonderful.”
The key to a long career in law enforcement, he says, is that no matter what kind of negative situations you encounter on the job, you have to try to not take it home with you.
“You have to try to go home normal for yourself and your family,” he said. “As hard as that may be.”
Naugatuck Police Lt. Bryan Cammarata, the department's spokesman, said he cannot say enough about Conway as an individual and as a police officer.
"He was a tremendous asset to this department, and he will be sorely missed," Cammarata said.